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Australia. A species of ant named after Lord Voldemort

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A new species of ant, named after Lord Voldemort, the villain from the “Harry Potter” series, has been discovered in Australia. As explained by the researchers who tracked it, the insect has a lot in common with the Dark Lord – it has a slender and elongated body, and spends its days in darkness.

The magazine “Zookeys” published a study presenting a recently discovered species of ant. There would be nothing unusual about it, if not for the fact that the hard-working insect has a lot in common with Lord Voldemort, the main villain of the popular “Harry Potter” saga.

The Dark Lord's Insect

As explained by scientists from the University of Western Australia who discovered the new species, the ants were observed during ecological research documenting animals living underground in the Pilbara region. Only two specimens were found, both found while cataloging animals netted from a 25-meter borehole.

Leptanilla Voldemort is an ant with a slender, pale body, spindly legs, and long, sharp mandibles. The study's lead author Mark Wong said its name (abbreviated L. voldemort) is a tribute to the wizard Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series.

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“Both the terrifying antagonist from 'Harry Potter' and the ant have ghastly emaciated bodies and live in darkness,” he said.

Leptanilla voldemort antMark Wong/UWA

Hunter in the dark

There are over 14,000 species of ants in the world, but only about 60 of them belong to the genus Leptanilla. Unlike most ants, Wong explained, these species form small colonies that feed exclusively underground. That's why worker bees are only slightly larger than a grain of sand – it's easier for them to move in the substrate.

– From what we know from the few observations of other species Leptanilla (…) the new species is almost certainly a predator, a terrifying hunter in the dark, he added. – Although we don't know what exactly he's hunting L. voldemortother species use their jaws and stingers to immobilize soil centipedes and then move their larvae nearby to feed on the carcasses.

There may be anywhere from 1,300 to over 5,000 species of ants living in Australia, but L. voldemort is only the second species in the family Leptanilla discovered on this continent.

Leptanilla voldemort antMark Wong/UWA

University of Western Australia

Main photo source: Mark Wong/UWA

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